Violence is on the rise!
There are shootings in schools, bombings in coffee shops, heavily-armed militia marauding in the streets. Terrorism has the world gripped in fear. Nowhere is safe! Immorality is rampant! The world demands recognition and acceptance of all the sins of the flesh. Churches have become corrupt! As we look forward to celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Catholics and the large Lutheran bodies are working toward a restoration of full fellowship between the two groups. Ironically, the issues that still separate them today are not the issues that Luther fought to reform—many of those have already been surrendered by the Lutherans. What still separates them is the moral laxity of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which accepts homosexuality and the ordination of women.
What are we to do in this miserable world?!
But wait a minute!
Aren’t we forgetting something? “The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). We confess that. During this Easter Season we have a Sunday celebrating that fact. We call it Good Shepherd Sunday. We sing, “The Lord’s my Shepherd” with great gusto and joy. Do we actually trust that fact?
If so, then why are we so fixated on all the evil and corruption in the world? That seems to be a common theme of discussion among Christians. It can cause us to cower in fear and keep us from talking about our faith. The world is very evil, yes! We know that. It always has been. Danger and violence abound in society, and blasphemous false teaching has become common in the churches.
We don’t want to ignore the evil and pretend it doesn’t exist, but we don’t need to live in fear or dismay, either. Remember, our Good Shepherd has said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). That’s right! Our Good Shepherd has already overcome all the evil in the world, including the evil in our own hearts and lives. He has forgiven us, washed us clean of all sin, and made us His own. Now He cares for us as our Good Shepherd.
Rather than dwelling on the evil in the world, remember, “The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want,” (lack) any good thing. He provides everything we need for our bodies and souls
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” The mountain meadows were a dangerous place for sheep, too, but they could lie down without fear when their shepherd was near. We can do so even more because our Good Shepherd is the Almighty God. He even prepares a banquet feast of blessings “in the presence of my enemies.”
When “I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Nothing can truly harm us when we have our Good Shepherd close beside us with the rod and staff of His Word.
The world is evil.
We need to be aware of the evil and avoid it wherever possible. We need to recognize the sin and not follow the ways of the world. But let’s not drag each other down with talk about how bad things are; rather, let’s lift each other up with the reminder that the Good Shepherd “restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness.” We can joyfully serve our Savior and our God knowing that
with our Good Shepherd, “Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the
David Reim is pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Vernon, British Columbia.